Bail Set for Would-Be Fair Haven School Shooter Jack Sawyer | Off Message

Bail Set for Would-Be Fair Haven School Shooter Jack Sawyer


Jack Sawyer with defense attorney Kelly Green in court - POOL PHOTO: GLENN RUSSELL / BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
  • Pool Photo: Glenn Russell / Burlington Free Press
  • Jack Sawyer with defense attorney Kelly Green in court
A Rutland Superior Court judge set bail Tuesday at $100,000 for the teenager who allegedly planned a massacre at Fair Haven Union High School.

Jack Sawyer, 18, who previously had been held without bail, could soon be heading to an inpatient mental health program. Sawyer's attorney, Kelly Green, said arrangements have been made for him to be admitted to the Brattleboro Retreat as soon as Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear if Sawyer would be released from jail. In an interview, Green said the Sawyer family would not post bail Tuesday but was "pursuing it."

Judge Thomas Zonay ordered that if Sawyer does post bail, he must be on 24/7 curfew at his father's home in Poultney. The judge also said he is open to having Sawyer go to the Brattleboro Retreat.

Last week, the Vermont Supreme Court overturned a decision to hold Sawyer without bail, and indicated there may not be enough evidence to sustain the initial charges — three counts of attempted murder and one count of attempted aggravated assault with a weapon — filed against him.

Justices said there was no evidence that Sawyer "attempted" any crime.

"Each of [Sawyer's] actions was a preparatory act, and not an act undertaken in the attempt to commit a crime," the justices wrote. "Therefore, as a matter of law, defendant’s acts did not fall within the definition of an attempt."

The justices sent the case back to Zonay to reconsider bail, but their decision has ramifications for the underlying charges.

Their ruling set off a desperate scramble by authorities to find a way to keep Sawyer from being freed. It also inspired Gov. Phil Scott and lawmakers to consider revisions to "attempt" laws to address future cases like Sawyer's.

Knowing the initial charges could soon be dismissed, Rutland County State's Attorney Rosemary Kennedy announced Tuesday she has filed two new charges against Sawyer. Both are misdemeanors.

Sawyer pleaded not guilty to the new charges, criminal threatening and carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure. Green questioned whether there was enough evidence to support the charges. Zonay allowed them to stand, but indicated they may not survive further legal challenges.

Citing the high court's ruling, Green is seeking to have the four initial charges against Sawyer dismissed. Zonay has yet to rule on that.

"At this point, the two [new] misdemeanor charges are the two most viable charges," Kennedy told Zonay.

Sawyer's father, David Sawyer, briefly took the stand Tuesday. He testified that he was willing to supervise his son and to prevent him from accessing a vehicle or the internet. (Sawyer's mother lives in Florida.) He said he has a close relationship with his son, and has struggled for years to try to get him help for suicidal and homicidal thoughts.

"He always listened to me," David Sawyer said under questioning from Kennedy.

"But he also had this whole [school shooting] plan that you were unaware of," Kennedy replied.

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